10-man City hold off United A-L comeback

Anna Harrington
Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren scored a double in the derby win over Western United

Melbourne City have bolstered their hold on second place in the A-League, with Jamie Maclaren scoring a brace to beat Western United 3-2 in front of 8,577 fans at AAMI Park.

City snatched the lead in the fifth minute courtesy of a Jamie Maclaren tap-in, then doubled it through Adrian Luna's 36th-minute volley, before Maclaren made it 3-0 in the 44th.

Two United penalties - scored by Besart Berisha in the 75th and Alessandro Diamanti in the 79th - got the visitors back in the game but City held on.

The win extended the gap between City and third-placed Perth Glory to four points, with Western United a further point behind - within striking distance of Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix.

United and City made five and six changes respectively to their starting line-ups, and it was the home side's adjustments which paid dividends early.

Lachlan Wales went on a penetrating run into the 18-yard box and slid the ball to Florin Berenguer, whose shot hit Jonathan Aspropotamitis, with Maclaren on hand to bundle the ball over the line.

Half an hour later Craig Noone dinked the ball over the United defensive line, with Luna sneaking through and slamming home a volley.

A calamity of United errors helped City to their third goal of the half.

Berisha turned over the ball in attack, with Luna thumping it forward, where United defender Andrew Durante and goalkeeper Kurto collided, allowing Maclaren to take possession and slot into an open net just before halftime.

United worked their way back into the game in the second half.

Josh Cavallo was brought down by Dean Bouzanis, with Berisha slotting his spot-kick with 15 minutes remaining.

Just minutes later, Harrison Delbridge conceded a penalty when he slid in to tackle Dylan Pierias, with the ball hitting his arm.

After a VAR review, Delbridge was ruled to have denied a clear goal scoring opportunity had his yellow card upgraded to red.

Diamanti powered home the penalty to make it 3-2 but City were able to hold on for all three points.

Given the smoke haze over Melbourne's CBD throughout the day, the air quality was monitored throughout the lead-up to the contest, with club doctors consulted and the game ultimately going ahead.